The club scene has long been a productive shed for bands that most of pop culture really don’t appreciate. Take Yo La Tengo, Les Savy Fav or Lambchop – they’ve been playing a long time but haven’t reached theater status yet. Two bands sharing the bill at The Clubhouse in Tempe: Earl Greyhound and Portugal The Man brought their uncanny ability to awe and maybe one day earn their name in bigger lights.
Fronted by Iggy Pop come Jack Black guitarist/singer Matt Whyte and affrocentric bassist Kamara Thomas, the New York trio come off as a bygone bargain – Led Zeppelin meets shagadelic prowess – hot and heavy – soulful and true. Perhaps there is not a more talented three-piece out there that remains a secret even with the help of one rock’s elusive drum heroes- Ricc Sheridan – pounding gargantuan drum beats in the vain of Hendrix-era Buddy Miles. Combining dominating numbers off of Soft Targets to songs off their new yet to be released album, Earl Greyhound never relented their energy, despite the rather small Wednesday night crowd. Clearly, Earl Greyhound deserves bigger and better acclaim, to propel themselves from these small club shadows.
Portgual. The Man on the other hand has been gaining widespread notoriety due to their hometown’s most famous resident – Sarah Palin. The Wasilla, Alaska band (now based in Portland, OR) – have recently released their third full-length album, Censored Colors showing the band’s affinity for mixing indie and prog into a sound blizzard resemblng Mars Volta meets Bright Eyes. Lead singer John Gourley’s high-pitched voice comes across as an eerie alternative to the whiney cliches of today’s indie scene. And while Gourley has revealed with Censored Colors that – “we’ve always wanted to make a really heavy record mellow," their live show leads into the improvisational grounds of Umphrey’s McGee, but maintaining a song first mission courtesy of Gourley, The five piece certainly impressed during their brief stay at The Clubhouse, surely making Portugal. The Man an act that will challenge the ears’ of listeners in 2009.